Sunday, July 31, 2016

ET Lake Zurich Triathlon - race recap

Hey there! Pull up a chair and your favorite beverage, it's gonna be a long one!

This is coming in a little late (okay, I know, we're at the three week mark!), but at least it's here - my recap of the Experience Triathlon Lake Zurich (Sprint) Tri!

This was my first official triathlon, and I definitely had the nerves for it. I'm not sure what exactly I was nervous about...I guess I just didn't want to look like an idiot! That said, I also didn't want to struggle through transitions, and I was worried I hadn't packed everything I I guess some nerves were totally rational :P

Annnyways...the report!

You might recall that I pushed all of my workouts up a day during the week leading up to this race which made Saturday a (well planned) rest day. That ended up being a really good idea, because this whole tri thing turned into a two day deal

Saturday had optional bike drop off/packet pick up, and I knew I did not want to have to worry about racking my bike the day of the race, so I drove out to Lake Zurich the day before the race in time for a course talk and packet pick up, and once that was accomplished I threw my bike on my designated rack too. I picked a spot close to the end of my rack, facing the bike-out. It took me a minute to figure out I had to back my bike in, but I got it figured out!
All in all, it was a quick talk and setup and I left without any questions about the course for the next day. I got a picture of by the lake, because why not?
The only other thing I really wanted to do before leaving was drive the bike course. It was a short one, but I did not know the area and the directions were kind of confusing. We did end up taking one wrong turn, but things worked out anyways and I had a pretty good idea of where the course would take me.

After that, it was off for Starbucks, lunch, and a movie (Tarzan! It was really good, if you're wondering!).

Except that during the movie we were sitting there, and I felt...odd. I was laying in that recliner thinking, 'Tomorrow you have to wake up early and do work. You can't be lazy like this. Man, I wish I could be lazy like this instead of getting up at 4. Why the hell are you doing this?!'

And then I stopped letting myself think like that. I'd been training, I was ready, and I'm used to getting up at 4am. I'd be fine. I'd be fine.

After the movie it was time for body markings: my number, 809, on both arms, and my age-at-the-end-of-the-year on my right calf.

Per usual, I insisted on thin crust pizza with sausage and onion and a side salad for dinner. I was going through my rituals to prepare the best way I know how, and I knew some pizza wouldn't fail me! After dinner it was early-to-bed. I wanted to be up at 4am to "get things moving" as they say, foam roll my ankle and stretch, and wake myself up a bit before we left.

Saturday Night
That part of the plan did not work out. I slept okay from about 9:30 to 1:00, and then I was up, restless, and I felt horribly nauseous. Sick to my stomach, like I had a brick sitting in it. And I started to worry about - of all things - whether or not I would wear my wetsuit for the race. After almost an hour of this, I took a few deep breaths and said to myself, 'You can make this decision in the morning when you get to the race' and did my best to fall back asleep.

I got a solid few hours of sleep after that, and woke up randomly feeling pretty good. I was about to drift back off to sleep but decided to double check how much longer I had to sleep until my alarm went off at 4:00...

My phone read 4:55.


I literally jumped up, yelled 'SHIT!' and started running around grabbing things. I stripped off my sleepwear and threw my tri kit on while guzzling water. I couldn't believe I'd woken up so late.

Moreover (and maybe it's TMI but whatever), I couldn't believe I was about to head out for my first triathlon and I hadn't pooped. When you get into endurance and distance training you know your body's process to prepare for a long run or event...and mine involves waking up an hour early to stretch and poop and eat something. And the thought of having to do the race without executing that one crucial step was pretty stressful!

But I realized I had no time to worry. It was 5:00 and we had to get out the door by 5:10 at the latest. I would have an hour and a half to sit around and wait for things to happen once we got there.

We were out the door on time (ish), and parked the car 27 minutes later. Traffic at 5:00am on a Saturday is pretty light. I grabbed my wetsuit and transition bag, spread some peanut butter on a Clif bar, and we started walking. I was still wound up and stressed about waking up late, but I was feeling better about things, especially the decision to rack my bike the day before.

When we got to the park I immediately went and set up my transition area. I'd read a bunch of blogs with tips on what to bring, and settled on:
  • a towel to lay stuff on
  • a towel to wipe my feet off after the swim
  • a 24oz water bottle for my bike with Nuun (I put it in the water bottle holder)
  • helmet
  • bike gloves (ended up not using them)
  • socks and running shoes (with such a short bike I decided to just wear my running shoes for the bike portion, and not my biking shoes)
  • tank top to change into for the run
  • running hat (this HRC one, if you're curious)
  • race belt with bib attached
  • an extra 16oz water bottle with water for before and after the bike
  • nutrition and hydration (a Honey Stinger gel and some Salt Stick tabs)

I made it all look as neat as possible, and then went backout the T1 entrance.

At this point I'd seen tons of people walking around in their wetsuits, so I decided I would wear mine. I also decided the best place to loiter until the start was by the bathrooms :P

I remembered to grab a picture of me in my Hogwarts Running Club tshirt too!
This ended up being one of my favorite pictures from the day :)
Everything worked out with that bathroom loiter (ahemm), and I pulled on my wetsuit and we went to scope out the swim area. While I was trying to sight the bouys I got a great surprise - my mom came to watch the race!!
I had told her she didn't have to come because it was very early (Sprint start at 6:30) and I would be done relatively quickly, but she made it and I was stoked :D

And now to the exciting part - the race itself!

The Race
Just a note: I've put all of my official times next to each header with Garmin times right under. The official times are kind of off...the swim included a 200 yard run from shore to transition (total 720 yards but the official distance was 400), the bike was billed as 10 miles but my Garmin clocked it at 14, and then run was just shy of 3 miles, not 3.1. I really don't fault them for any of this, as the race has always been an Olympic distance and this was the first year they offered the Sprint route. Hopefully they'll have more accurate listings next year! Here are my times, per the official results:

The Swim - 10:19
Garmin: 10:30, estimated time in water 9:15
I'll say one thing about the swim start: It was the only part of the course that was not explained well, at least not in a way I understood. I wasn't sure what the actual course was because they didn't have the bouys out the day before, and day-of it was hard to sight the Sprint distance bouys because of the size and color (smaller size and highlighter yellow in the sun). I also couldn't tell where the swim start was, and there were a lot (at least 30) of Sprint athletes standing near the swim exit like I was, waiting for the start to be announced.
At 6:30, when the Sprint men should have entered the water, I looked at my watch, then at the water, and there was still no one swimming. I looked around...lots of athletes in red swim caps that matched mine. But we were supposed to start at 6:30, and women at 6:34...

...that was when I saw the sudden migration of red caps moving to my right. I looked at my mom and said, "The start must be over there! I have to go!" And slipped out of my flip flops and joined the migration. When I got to the start I merged into the group and asked the first person I could, "Do you know what the course is?" because I still had no clue. She pointed out which bouys to follow, just as the men went into the water at 6:32. I assumed they'd be starting the women at 6:36 to allow us four minutes after the men's late start...but that was not the case. The announcer told us we'd be starting at 6:34 and I looked at the clock - I had thirty seconds to spit in my goggles and put my ear plugs in, and we were off!

(And in all this rush I almost forgot to start my watch. I literally started it about two seconds after crossing the timing mat because I didn't realize until I was running down the sandy beach that though I'd had the Tri screen up, the watch had gone into Power Save mode during the wait. Every person out there who tracks their progress with a GPS device is probably squirming a bit at the thought of not starting their watch at the beginning of a race...)

The second major thing I have to say about the swim is: It was short.

I knew it was going to be short, but over those 500ish yards I felt like I jumped in the water and jumped out.

It was also the first swim I've ever done with that many people. The OWSs I've done have people sporadically entering the water, so it was a fun and new experience to run in with all the other people I'd be racing that day.

Because of the crowd, I kept my head above water for a good 100 yards. I did not want to get kicked in the face, whack people with my arms, or swallow a bunch of questionable lake water. Luckily, the short swim meant I could power through it, and I passed a lot of people through the entire swim. There was no time to "settle in" to my stroke or kick, my only goal was to pass each bouy and get out of the crowded lake as fast as I could.
You'll notice a large pink line here that goes through the trees. That would be the swim exit to T1. My Garmin marked about 500 yards from swim start to the beach where we exited, so that run to transition was about 220 yards. A nice, long sprint after that swim!

Note to self: in the future, start T1 on Garmin as soon as you're out of the water. This makes it way easier to figure out your swim time later.

For those wondering, my total swim time (run to T1 included) was 10:30, but after some guesstimation I was at about 1:51/100 yds for this swim! Hello adrenaline!

Transition 1 - 3:19
Wayy back at the beginning of my triathlon journey I said that transitions were what I was most worried about. Chicago will be HUGE compared to this race, but that fear is gone. I've realized it's just about getting in and getting out, paying attention, following signs, and listening to the volunteers: That is what will get you in and out.

I managed to get out of the water fast enough that there was no crowd at the transition. As soon as I was out of the water and running up the hill I pulled the zipper on my wetsuit to get it off my torso, then took off my goggles and ear plugs and put them in my swim cap. When I got to the bike rack I pulled my wetsuit off and threw it on the rack where my bike was, wiped off my feet, threw on my shoes and helmet (deciding to leave the gloves off), took a Salt Stick and gulped some water. Then I grabbed my bike, and headed out of transition.

The Bike - 44:51 (10 miles)
Garmin - 44:49, 14.00 miles even
Right as I left transition I pulled to the right of the exit, mounted my bike, and was off. I spotted my mom and Cam on the sidelines and waved quickly before turning out onto Route 12:

The entire bike course was great. We had the shoulder and right lane of Route 12 to ride on for that portion, and most other roads were closed completely for the event. There was only a short stretch of about 2 miles that they were not allowed to close the roads for the race at all, and about 4 more miles where the roads were "partially" closed, with all intersections monitored. Along those stretches there were numerous patrol cars driving to make sure we were safe. Along the whole route there were tons of volunteers and police staffing the course and directing us, as well as any traffic that crept onto the course. I saw numerous bike repair vans as well, so A+ to the organizers for that.

All in all, the bike was pretty uneventful and gave me some time to think. I checked out lots of bikes as we rode...there was quite a selection, from mountain bikes to tri bikes. I got passed by quite a few people, and I also did a bit of passing. There was one point in particular where I cruised by two women on tri bikes and realized that, sure, your bike can make you faster, but at the end of the day it's more about the rider and their training than the bike they're sitting on. Don't get me wrong - I still totally plan to upgrade, but it was a nice confidence booster as I went.

This ride was also my first chance to really test out my aerobars. I hadn't used them on the road yet, and I was excited and nervous for the opportunity. At first I didn't think I'd use them at all, but almost as soon as I pulled onto 12 I went into aero, and I only came out of it for turns and to drink water after that. It was so comfortable and fast. I really enjoyed it! Along with the adrenaline pumping through me, I saw my highest average mph on the bike that I've ever seen - 18.7! It would be great to see that at Chicago!

Random thought time: At one point as I was riding I wondered what time it was. I clicked back on my Garmin and it said something like 7:15. I couldn't believe how early it still was! A few minutes later as I was giving myself a little pep talk I said something to myself like, 'You eat rides like this for breakfast!' and then realized how early it still was and thought again, 'You are literally eating this ride for breakfast!' And that, my friends, is my sense of humor.

My only other concern with the bike was making sure I consumed the entire 24oz bottle of Nuun I had, along with a Salt Stick. I actually really dislike drinking out of a water bottle on my bike so this becomes a challenge for me. I ended up taking in a little less than 20oz, so that's definitely something to work on.

Aside from all that, the course itself had some rolling hills, there was a great little portion where we went by a Civil War reenactment (this was the portion of the road they couldn't close), and I totally slowed down a tiny bit to look out over the camps of tents and soldiers in their gear. I seriously considered yelling, 'Long live President Lincoln!', but decided against it. You see, I'm not very familiar with Civil War era military uniforms, and it was entirely possible that those were Confederate soldiers ;)

A little past that things got more interesting as we rode through a few quick, sharp turns taking us into downtown Lake Zurich and towards T2. I started to see a few runners, and couldn't believe I was almost off the bike! Two events down, one to go!

Transition 2 - 2:03
Transition 2 was much easier mentally than T1. I reracked my bike and pulled off my helmet, and decided to change my tank top as well. I'd been wearing a Tri kit, but I don't really like running in the shirt so I brought a change for the run. I dried off my face on my towel, pulled on my HRC running hat, clipped on my bib belt, and grabbed a honey stinger gel that I started eating as I ran towards the Run Out!

The Run - 31:19
Garmin 31:18, 2.97 miles
I would like to point out my wet boobs. I had just put that shirt on, but my bra was still totally wet from the swim. Whoops. #wardrobemalfunction #feelingtoogoodtocare
As I started on the run the only thing I could think about was how sweet that gel was, and how I wanted like three bottles of water to wash it down.

My second thought was about the promise I'd made to Dr Gent - any pain in my shin and I would stop running.

My third thought was to slow down. I'd just done the bike and run through transition on grass while gulping down a gel, so my heart rate was a little high. I also hadn't run in almost a month - controlling my pace needed to be a priority. By the time I got three quarters of a mile in my legs were feeling really good, and well transitioned from the bike into the run. My hips were a bit tight, but mostly I felt good.

(Sidenote...going from the fast bike to the run made me feel like a turtle with my pace! I honestly felt so slow just because the scenery wasn't flying past me anymore!)

Overall, the run was fun. I felt good the whole way through, especially for not having run in a month. There were still plenty of volunteers and even a few spectators, and the route took us around the lake we'd done the swim at so there was a nice view the whole way as well. At one point someone passed me and said something like 'Good job, keep going!' and then as he passed the police officer at the nearest intersection he said, 'Thanks for volunteering!' Well, when I got to the officer I said, 'That guy totally stole my line, but thank you so much!' and all three of us had a nice little laugh about that. Definitely the kind of race atmosphere you want!

The best part about the run? I was pain free. It was a 5k so there wasn't enough time or distance for my ankle or knees to start hurting, it was just a solid, quick run. My average pace was 10:31! That was crazy to me, coming off the swim, bike, and an injury! I couldn't have asked for a better feeling from my first run back.

Honestly, it felt like I blinked and turned a corner to see the finisher's chute, and then I was running through it:

And just like that, it was over! As I ran through I was actually thinking, 'I wish there was more for me to do!' I really just didn't want it to be over! In the moment (and still now!) that thought made me feel really good about the distance I chose for Chicago. Come August 28th, I'll be more than ready for it!

My official time was 1:31:51. My Garmin had me just a few seconds over, at 1:31:55
My mom came over and excitedly hugged me (even though I was dripping with sweat), and I grabbed my finisher's medal from one of the volunteers.

I mostly couldn't believe how quickly it had finished, and that I'd done it with no problems at all. I was happy, don't get me wrong, but I really wanted to keep going!

Instead of running on, my mom snapped this super proud looking photo while I waited in line for my post-race massage:
It was a great race. And a great morning in general. That said, I can now officially say that Sprint is not my distance. It was just way too short. I don't mean I will never do another Sprint distance again because it was also a lot of fun, I just know I crave longer races too! ;)

And there you have it!
The whole race, setup to finish, recapped. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you come back for my Chicago recap too!


Monday, July 25, 2016

Chicago Triathlon Training: Week Seven (marathon week 9)

Here we go - back for another training update!

First, the schedule, planned vs actual:

Training Plan

Actual workouts
I mentioned last weekend that I got sick on Sunday, and that resulted in me skipping some more workouts this week. I felt pretty freaking lazy doing it, but I decided I would rather take a few days off entirely, get some extra sleep, and feel good coming back - rather than getting up stupid early trying to half ass workouts just to say I did them.

I also realized after my seven miles on Wednesday that I would not be ready to tackle a half by the weekend. And that's okay. I took nearly a month off from running, it's okay if I'm not quite there. I've amended my training schedule and I have a few more weeks to boost my conditioning to get back on plan.'s the damage:

Monday, July 18 - easy swim 1.8, weights rest
Like I said up top, I stuck to resting on Monday, and even got to bed early. Does a body good!

Tuesday, July 19 - 3 miles (speedwork) rest
Ditto here, although I was starting to feel like such a slacker because of it.

Wednesday, July 20 - 7 miles, weights
Wednesday I woke up very early to get my run in so I wouldn't have to run in the heat after work. I was out of bed and puttering around at 3:30, and left my house at 3:50. I decided to loop around a few of the subdivisions and then back to my house to rehydrate before the last few miles. I ended up doing a 5 mile loop to start - and that was definitely too long to go without any water, Nuun, or Salt Stick.

Though it was coolish when I left my house (high 60s) the humidity was more brutal than I anticipated and I was sweating like crazy. I pulled my tech t-shirt off at around mile 2.5 and ran the rest of the way in my sports bra. I felt like an idiot for wearing leggings as well, because they were so freaking hot. The lack of hydration showed later...I ended up with an exercise-induced headache from not replenishing all those salts and electrolytes soon enough.

So...lesson learned. Just past 5 miles I was back at my house and grabbed my water bottle and salt stick, which I downed right away. For the last two miles I did an out-and-back right from my house. I finished up my last two miles and boy was I feeling it, but I made it back to my house before sunrise. Read that again...all 7 miles were done by 5:10...official sunrise was 5:35. My times were better than I anticipated...I would like to run the marathon at an 11:30 pace. Without so much humidity that might be possible...but I'll just had to stick it out to find out. I'm sure even my long run times will start dropping as fall rolls in (please dear god I hope that happens soon):
In case you're wondering...the run itself was pretty uneventful. I probably could have used a headlamp since some of the streets had very few streetlights, but oh well. neighbor was awake when I left and when I got back and let's just say the exchange was...interesting...

And then after work I lifted because why not?:

Thursday, July 21 - hilly bike 90 hilly bike 45
Though I fully planned to ride all 90 minutes of this on Thursday, I wasn't able to fit it in. We got some good news a few weeks ago at work that our department has been kind of out-performing expectations this quarter, and as a result they wanted to take us out for a celebratory dinner. As such, I only had enough time to fit in one loop of the hillier trail I ride before I had to get showered and cleaned up for dinner.

I'll be honest love lost here. It was freaking hot as hell and that one loop left me feeling a bit overheated and nauseous (and my average heart rate was a tick high for cycling, at 145bpm, andprobably why I felt like puking):

Friday, July 22 - tempo swim 2.1 weights, .5 swim
So, funny story. One day I was thinking about this training plan and kind of feeling like it's really swim heavy, and all I'd been doing was swimming ridiculous amounts. Then Katie texts me to ask about my plan and comment on the crazy amounts of swimming I'd been doing. It was such a relief, and I felt so happy that someone was telling me, 'Damn, you're in that pool a lot!" We chatted about some training stuff and I basically gave myself the go-ahead to cut down on the pool time after hearing what she's doing for her next Half Ironman (hint: it's not as much as I've been doing for my Oly, which is all sorts of ridiculous).

Anyways, Friday I had a 2 mile swim on my schedule, and I'd decided to pare it down to one to maintain my sanity. I decided that to make up the other hour of my workout, I would lift beforehand (because who doesn't love swimming on fatigued arms?).

So after work I headed to the gym for a long session lifting and swimming. The lifting went very well:
Squats AND lunges! This turned out to be the stupidest idea ever over the next two days.
About that swim bit the big one. The first 500 were fine, but after only 700 yards my feet were cramping so badly that I couldn't straighten out two of the toes on my left foot, and I decided to call it just shy of half a mile. I didn't even really care though. It'd be a rough day for me emotionally, I hadn't eaten or hydrated well before, and I wasn't going to keep beating myself up:

Saturday, July 23 - 13.1 miles, easy bike 80
The big plans for Saturday included going to a wedding at the Bristol Renaissance Faire...which meant I really, actually had to get up stupid early for a bike ride (rather than getting up early to beat the heat). I was up at 5:30, was driving and eating a Clif bar around 6:05, and was at Busse Woods pedaling at 6:20.

It took me just about 81 minutes to clear three loops (for a total of just under 22 miles):
It was hot and humid, so I hydrated the whole ride with Nuun and Salt Sticks, and after the ride I had a honey stinger gel. Really, 80 minutes is short enough that all I think about replenishing are liquids and electrolytes, but I knew it was going to be a hot day (with more sweating), so I wanted the gel to keep on top of things. And since I'm honest about things here...I totally dumped half of that honey gel into my post-ride coffee ;)

And then it was wedding time ;)

Sunday, July 24 - easy bike 80 10 miles
I did not get as much sleep as I should have Saturday night. We went over to some friends' after the wedding and technically I fell asleep at like 8:30ish (yeah, I'm that lame friend who chooses sleep over socialization when I'm training, thank goodness they're cool about me kipping on the couch), and at 11:30ish I woke up and motioned to Cam that it was time to get going. I knew Sunday would be hot and humid (again), and I wanted to get up for my run as close to six as possible.

I didn't fall back asleep until 12:45, and I was up for my alarm at 5:45, my entire body yelling at me from the squats, lunges, and bike ride. My legs were not excited for this run, and I felt like I'd stacked things against myself.

I took some time to wake up, drink water, and realize that I was not super prepared for this run. I didn't have my Camelbak which meant I'd have to hold my water bottle the entire run (or do a lot of loops back to my car).

Then I realized I forgot running socks. And I would have to dig the ones from Saturday's bike ride out of my laundry bag (because the laundry washer was out of commission). So I pulled them out. And they were damp. And I ghetto rigged them into my window for the drive thinking that would dry them off. It didn't.
People were probably thinking 'WTF' when I drove by...
Anyways. I was already nervous about this run, and these little preparedness problems made me even more nervous. This was going to be my longest run this training cycle (even though I should have capped 13 at this point), and my longest run since half training last year.

It was hot. And humid. And damnit, I didn't want to go run in that.

But I sucked it up and got out there anyways, damp socks and all. Like Saturday's ride, I did this run at Busse Woods.

As I headed out I decided to do two out-and-back loops. The first would be a three miler (totalling six miles o-a-b) and bring me back to my car after just over an hour. At that point, I could get more water, take some Salt Sticks, and grab gummies for the last few miles. The second trek would be a slightly shorter 2 mile o-a-b (4 total) bringing me to my ten miles. During the first six I only hydrated with Nuun, and when I got back to my car I took in some extra water, two Salt Stick tabs, and three Honey Stinger gummies. Then I refilled my water bottle with Nuun and took the other gummies for the rest of my run. I had two per mile (with Nuun), and three at mile 9 (so one whole pack consumed during the last 4 miles). When I got back to my car I took one more Salt Stick. I feel like I'm finally getting the hang of hydrating and fueling for me...and it's magical how much better I feel after these runs!

One of the cool things about running at Busse was that I finally had the chance to see some of my #TeamRMHC teammates in action! I passed two people wearing the same singlet I was wearing, which was very cool. I can't wait til race day when there's a whole team of us!!

And as I kept running...especially the last two miles when things started to get tough, I just kept reminding myself why I'm doing this. How far I've come. That every effort I was putting in...because of the heat, the distance, the was all worth it. It's all what I'm conditioning my body for. That if I can do it during training, I can do it on race day.

Before I knew it...those ten miles were up. They ended up going better than I thought they would, although I fully admit that my clothes were completely soaked with sweat. I took off my singlet immediately and it was practically dripping. There was not a dry spot on my entire body.

I know that every drop of sweat will be worth it on marathon day. October 9th, here I come!

Finally, of note this week:
With my 7 miles on Wednesday and 10 on Sunday, I was able to earn three of the four medals for the Hogwarts Running Club's One HRC Marathon event. I didn't think it would ever happen! (Only a bit overdramatic because, well, injury.)
I still have 20k to complete (that's 13 miles, yo) to earn the Gryffindor piece.

Also of note...I have the HRC Half Blood Prince Half Marathon and the SHE Power 13.1 to finish still. My long runs are finally getting longer so I'll earn them all soon...but goodness that's a lot of halfs!

And there you have it...the week's activities. I'm gonna go to sleep now, thanks ;)


Monday, July 18, 2016

Chicago Triathlon Training: Week Six (marathon week 8)

It was another rough week in terms of workouts. Things kind of went downhill on Friday and still haven't recovered.

Alas, on I forge. Getting there, day by day...mostly.

Monday, July 11 - rest day
Monday was supposed to be  rest day after the sprint, but I really wanted to go lift so I did!
I did supersets again, which is why I was able to fit all of this in. I think I'm ready to start doing more legs too...time to get some of that strength back!

I didn't realize it until a few days later, but between the squats, deadlifts, and my first run in almost a month on legs were SORE. They were singing the soreness all week. Yikes!

Tuesday, July 12 - tempo swim 2.2 (3700 yds), 3 miles
I swam my scheduled 2.2 miles on Tuesday. These long pool swims are not my favorite, but I guess I just gotta get 'em done:
I honestly can't remember which workout I did...that's what I get for not taking a picture of it!

One thing of note...I've been having problems with my feet cramping when I swim, and it almost always forces me into doing a lot of pull drills to give my legs a break. On Tuesday both the front and backs of my legs were cramping, which really sucked. Normally it's just my calves, but my peroneals and tib anteriors got in on the action this week.

So I went to my tri group and asked for some advice, and there were two things mentioned: How I point my toes, and making sure I'm hydrated properly (like, with salts and electrolytes). There's not a ton I can do overnight about how I kick, but I figured I could add in salt stick tablets before and during my swims in the future (see Friday for how that worked out!).

Just as a note: I skipped the run since I had six miles on the schedule for Wednesday, and I'm not supposed to run two days in a row yet (per the doctor). This was a planned skip, so I didn't feel bad about nixing it from the list.

Wednesday, July 13 - six miles
It had to be the hottest day of the year on Wednesday. It was at least 87 bajillion degrees, twelve thousand percent humidity, and my legs were for sure made of lead that day. Basically, it was all around ridiculous, but after work I stopped at a trail to fit my six miles in. I wasn't sure how my shin would feel during the run, and I was hoping for at least four of the six miles.

Well...I managed them all. Barely. Though I didn't feel like dying until the very end (from the heat, not the distance), this was a hard run, and I saw my slowest mile times ever. Great confidence booster when you're just getting back to it. My mile times were two full minutes slower than my run on Sunday (after I'd swam and biked). It was hot out. I'm blaming that.

It's not pretty but I stuck with my heart rate training so I just gotta deal:
Slow...but kept my average heart rate at 149. Whoopie.

Thursday, July 14 - 90 minute hilly bike
I took Thursday off work for some family stuff, which meant I could roll out of bed a little later.

My legs still felt like lead, and I intentionally slowed it down during this ride and took it easy. I knew I had another long ride the next day (or at least I thought I did...) so it felt like the right thing to do:
Check out how slow I can go...
...and yes. I slacked on those last six minutes. SUE ME.

Friday, July 15 - long tempo brick 80/30
I wasn't planning to do the run portion of this brick...but I ended up skipping the whole thing. After the beginning of the week I was tired and just not feeling it. It's not like I skip workouts often, but I chose to skip this one. As a matter of fact...I was sitting in the parking lot, about to get out of my car when I decided I really just wanted to go home instead. So I caved.

If I'd known what was coming for the weekend, I probably would have sucked it up...but I didn't, and I'm trying not to beat myself up about it now because the weekend did crumble a bit. :( Such is life though...I just keep reminding myself that I'm not going to lose all conditioning because of a few missed days, but it's still a struggle to get out of that mindset.

Saturday, July 16 - weights, steady swim 2.1 (3,700 yds)
I slacked on Friday...I did not slack on Saturday. I was looking forward to lifting, but I was not looking forward to another long swim...and I did them both anyways.

The weights flew by - I was done before I even felt I'd started (this is why I feel like I need to add in more legs...):

And after that, I got in the pool for a long swim:
Workout source
Not too shabby for my lack luster feelings and tired arms!

I made sure to keep well hydrated too! I took a salt stick with breakfast, drank water throughout lifting (and protein after lifting and during my swim), popped another salt stick as I began my swim, hydrated with Nuun and a Honey Stinger gel, took one more salt stick during my workout, and one after (that's 4 salt sticks total, you can take up to 10 a day):
And...NO FOOT CRAMPS. So I think I might have figured out at least one large chunk of the solution to my problem! I'm sure resting on Friday helped, but I think the electrolyte replacement did a lot for me as well.

Sunday, July 17 - 13.1 miles
I woke up Sunday and I felt terrible.

Saturday around 5 as I was getting ready to go to a friend's I got a tickle in my throat. I honestly just thought I'd swallowed something wrong, but it turns out it might have been a bit more. I laid down on the couch at my friend's at about 8:30, and was out for the count by 9:30 (and I think I'm being generous with the time frame there). Because I was at someone else's house I was kind of in and out of sleep so it's not like it was quality, but I was shocked to wake up at almost one am and find out we were still there (I wanted to leave at 11:30 because of my long run on Sunday). I said, I woke up on Sunday at 6 and felt awful - almost overtired. I was nauseous, tired, my throat hurt, and my stomach was cramping a bit. I thought I just needed to get up and get things shaking, but within 20 minutes of getting out of bed, I was laying on the couch with my dogs feeling awful, and all I wanted to do was sleep.

So I did. I fell asleep and woke up more than two hours later, not feeling that much better. I decided to scrap the run entirely. There was no point, especially if my body needed rest.

And now...
It's now Monday and I'm still not feeling great. I felt so not-great this morning that I left work early, because my head felt like it was in a vice. I couldn't focus on a single thing, and it felt like my one goal today was to will my phone not to ring. So at 10:30 I asked my manager if I could take a half day and leave at 11 (and he's awesome so he said yes).

Spoiler alert for next week's post...I skipped today's workout(s) too. I had weights and a swim on the schedule and I'm not doing them.

As a consequence of yesterday, I'm also going to go back into my marathon plan and rework it, pretty much to push everything back two weeks. I intentionally scheduled a few weeks off between the end of August and early September, and it looks like - between injury and illness - I'll now have to use those weeks for training. I've missed too many long runs at this point to just ignore them and forge could lead to reinjury if I do that. I'm not sure how things will look yet because of the triathlon (I'm not running 14 miles or something ridiculous the day before that!), but something has to change.

So there's that for now. I plan on posting my race recap this week, so keep an eye out for that! Here's to feeling better, and better training!


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Hannah's Visit

I said I would post about it and here it is! I need to get better about these things though, because it's taken me quite a while! But into it we go!

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to have my best friend come visit me from England. This is going to be one gigantic post about all of the things we did.

There will be lots of pictures.

I will talk about lots of food.

And yes, we had lots of fun!

Kind of like my workout posts, we're just gonna take it one day at a time. So here goes!

Tuesday, June 21
Hannah flew in from San Diego (where she was visiting other friends) on an afternoon flight. I'd been tracking her flight the whole time, and the arrival time never changed: it stayed steady at 9:02pm. I left work, got my lifting in, and then sat and twiddled my thumbs and not eat dinner, since Hannah had told me she'd be hungry right off the plane.

At the appropriate time I left, checking the flight status which still showed an arrival time of 9:02. I got to the airport and parked (at which point I totally forgot which terminal American flies into - it's 3, if you're curious), and started walking to T3 arrivals. Which, PS, is about as far away from where I parked as you can get.

As I went, I checked her flights arrival time. While I was driving, it had gone from 9:02 to 8:41! WHAT?! That meant she might already be coming out of the gate! So I hustled along and finally found a spot at the bottom of the escalator near baggage claim to wait, eagerly peering around searching for her.

And then I got a text...they'd arrived early but there was no gate for them and we they were still on the tarmac. The waiting process began anew. And we waited. And waited. And texted a lot about how bogus it was that we had to wait. And waited. And finally, around 9:30, she deplaned and headed out. Finally, after 18 months, I got to see and hug my best friend (possibly cracking some ribs), and we both cried.

As we started walking out of the terminal, hand in hand, I admitted that I had parked really far away. Whoops. But we got to the car, loaded things in, and were on our way.

Oh, and right as we were leaving the parking garage I turned on the radio and said, "Maybe 'My House' is playing on one of these stations!" and BAM, it was. First selection, and my summer anthem started playing (yeah, that's right, it's my 2016 Summer Anthem...something about Flo Rida...):
Anyways, I drove my little car straight to Cheesecake Factory so we could knock one of the bucket list restaurants off right away. It was delicious, and well worth the long wait for dinner! I got a piece of tuxedo cheesecake to split when we got home as well (good decision).

When we got home, my mom had prepared a little "Welcome Home" setup for Hannah:
It was super sweet, and after catching up for a few minutes we decided to get ready for bed so we could forge ahead full speed on Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 22
Wednesday morning rolled in and I got up and ran to the gym to sneak in a swim while Hannah got a little extra sleep. We decided that we (Hannah, my mom, and I) would meet at a local diner for lunch after my workout, and then Hannah and I would run some errands we'd planned for the day.

So first up was Tony's, for some good food, and then we wandered out on our errands.

First up was collecting supplies for guacamole (and possibly some dinner things we needed).

Next, we went to Area 51 in Crystal Lake to check out our tattoo designs. Aside from needing to reposition some text, they looked great!

After that was World Market...I'd agreed to assemble a gift bag for a speaker at work (no one else volunteered) and I still had to do it. So we meandered around and I picked up a bunch of random (but nice) chocolates and cookies and stuff, and that was that.

For the rest of the afternoon we hung around, talked, ate guacamole (it was SO GOOD) and made dinner with my mom. All in all, a fun and relaxing day.

Thursday, June 23
We got just a teensy bit busier. After my 10 miles on the elliptical and rush to get ready, we drove over to my office to hand over said gift basket. I decided I didn't want to stick around for the speaker, and instead we hit up eatery number two on our list...Olive Garden!

Delicious but not-so-nutritious!

After stuffing ourselves with breadsticks, we decided to wander around the mall for a bit. I was on the lookout for a new pair of shoes, and that's when we snuck into the Vans store and I bought these bad boys:
Sorry, had to show them off again!
We did a bit more wandering then decided to head out since we had to stop at Target for some more stuff before our tattoo appointments. Right when we were leaving Target the shop called and said we could come in early (as soon as we wanted), so we dropped things off at home and headed over.

A little less than two hours later we walked out with these:
Hannah's on the left, mine on the right.
Before I get into the story behind it, I have to mention that Hannah was really worried about getting her first "big" tattoo because she wasn't sure she could handle the pain...AND SHE FELL ASLEEP DURING IT. She got up afterwards and said it was really pleasant and the "gentle scratching" just lulled her to sleep.

Anyways...the store! Because there is one!

A few years ago Hannah mentioned getting matching tattoos, and I thought it was a great idea, but we had no clue what to get. Then one year at Christmas she sent me this wall hanging that says 'Good friends are like the stars, you don't always see them but you know they're there.'

We both thought about what to get, and one day Hannah said she wanted to get something with the phrase 'like the stars', possibly in each other's handwriting, which I loved...and then we got stuck there for ages, with no idea how to execute or what else to add.

Then one day, in a total burst of inspiration, I had the idea that we could get each other's horoscope constellations as a background to the script. And so the idea was born...and that's exactly what we got. Our "matching" tattoos.

Hannah's tattoo is the Sagittarius constellation with my handwriting. Mine is the Leo constellation with her handwriting. As they are now, both tattoos are very simple, but we got them with the understanding that as time passes we will add to them. Just like our friendships, the tattoos will continue to evolve, which I think is pretty freaking cool :D

Friday, June 24
Friday was when things really got fun, because I had a surprise planned for Hannah that she had no idea about.

The morning passed without too much craziness, and around 5:30 we left my house to head towards the city (stopping to buy supplies for more guacamole). Originally I'd told Hannah that we were staying with one of my coworkers because I had a race to go to Saturday morning. This was part of the plan...but because I couldn't run I had no plans to run the race. It was, however, organized through work (and I was the organizer) so I knew I'd have to show up Saturday morning regardless. Saturday night the plan was to go out in Boystown, and then Sunday hit the Pride Parade.

Anyways...we were not staying with a coworker. About a month before Hannah's trip, I texted my best friends from college and asked if they would want to drive in from their respective locations (which weren't close...Bryn came from South Bend and Kycarah from a few hours west in Illinois) to have a Girl's Weekend.

And because they're both amazing and awesome, they said yes.

Moreover, Bryn said we could stay with her sister in Norwood park (about 30 minutes from the Loop) so we wouldn't have to splurge on an AirBnB. This got me even more excited, because her sister Kara is pretty fantastic as well. Then the week before Hannah came, I asked my friend Steffi if she'd want to come hang with us too...and of course she was down. I became more and more excited knowing that I'd have all of my best friends together for the first time in years.

It was so hard to keep it a secret all week. I almost slipped up a few times, especially the night she asked me how my other friends were doing (I almost replied, 'You can ask them yourself on Friday'...) but managed not to say anything until we were standing in front of Kara's door. At that point, I looked at Hannah and said, "By the way, I've been lying to you all week. We're not staying with my coworker."

And then Kycarah opened the door, and Bryn poked her face around the corner, and I almost died of happiness. And yes, Hannah was SUPER surprised.

It ended up being such a great weekend.

Friday night we hung around and got drunk off of Sangria and lots of home made vodka infusions that Bryn brought with her:
This label was in honor of me ;)
Kara's hostess gift. This...and sangria and vodka, haha!
And our first (of many) pictures together:
Hannah, Bryn, Kara, me, Kycarah
We had a great time that first night, just hanging out, catching up, and eatings LOTS of delicious guac that Hannah made. She really makes the best guac ever. We all got to snuggle with Bryn's puppy Luna too (how could we leave her out of girl's night?!):

We all finally decided to fall into bed. I had to be up early for the race the next day...and we all needed some sleep for Saturday's plans!

Saturday, June 25
I got up pretty early and was out of the house to get my team assembled at Proud to Run before just about anyone else got up. I drove to Montrose Harbor and saw my team off on their runs/walks:
Me...and various co workers. Proud to Run!
...and then I peaced out (as planned, since I couldn't run the 10k, which they were all fine with) and headed back to Kara's to figure out brunch.

Shortly after I got to Kara's, Steffi showed up. We had some mimosas then grabbed an Uber to Lincoln Park.

We picked a place in Lincoln Park called Nookies to have brunch. It was really, really good...except for the $7.50 upcharge for adding steak to my eggs. Like, okay I get that it's the city, but it wasn't some amazing quality steak, there was not that much of it, and there were entire entrees that didn't cost that much. I haggled with the manager to bring the price to something reasonable since the menu didn't mention the upcharge and the server hadn't told me.

For those wondering, I swear I'm not unreasonable. I showed the manager another dish on the menu that I had almost ordered and was almost exactly the same as what I had eaten but included the charge for steak...and cost three dollars less than my bill with the upcharge. It wasn't about the three was about the principle. Which I'm sure the manager was annoyed by, but whatever ;)

After brunch we walked to Lincoln Park Zoo...and it had to be the hottest day in history. Okay, so it was low 90s, but it was hot and there was not a cloud in the sky. We spent a few hours wandering around the zoo and finding places to sit when we weren't wandering, and then headed back to Kara's.

But not before taking a few more pictures ;)
Kycarah, Bryn, Hannah, myself, and Steffi
We took this super cool picture in the viewing area by the Sea Lions. Speaking of super cool...this was the coolest place at the whole zoo, and we were able to stand directly in front of air vents to cool off. I was very jealous of the sea lions too, swimming around in their enclosure. Would have been nice if they'd let us in there too!
When we got back to Kara's, lots of naps and relaxing were had. The sun kind of did us all in. After the naps we bust out the drinks again and started to tie dyed some shirts that we planned to wear to the parade the next day. Here's a sneak peek:

Though we had planned to go out...we didn't. It was a good thing we didn't too, because by 10 pm we were all shattered. Between the heat, the alcohol, and all the food we consumed (gyros for dinner!), we were all ready to got to bed pretty early.

Sunday, June 26
Sunday morning was a bit lazy, but we got ourselves ready to go to the parade and cleaned up a bit around Kara's. Kycarah decided to head back home (which made total sense since she lived the furthest away), and Bryn and Hannah and I caught an Uber to get us as close to the parade as possible. Bryn's brother Ian lives almost right next to where the parade starts, so we figured that would be a good launching place for us.

We ended up having to walk about a mile and a half to Ian's because of street closures, but we were able to hang out and cool off for a minute before walking to the parade. We found a great spot in the shade (which also happened to be almost exactly where I watched the parade from two years ago!) and got ready for some fun!

And of lots of things:

The parade began with a tribute to Orlando.
A Scout is Equal!
My favorite parts of the parade are the 'dykes on bikes'...they aren't called that anymore and I can't remember the name now, but two years ago when I went to the parade they were called that. They're seriously so fun to watch drive by!
Ahhh I see what you did there...I'm not 100% on board with Hillary, but I am all over this sign.
More motorcycles!!!! This time as superheros and villians!
The balloon floats! This was Hannah's favorite part of the parade, and very, very fun to watch go by because they were so creative. They started with an Orlando tribute.

That would be a unicorn!

My favorite sign of the day...and so, so true.
We had a little addition to our group...this guy came along and started getting us free stuff from everyone while he drank boxed wine :P
And that's just a sampling of all the pictures I took! With about an hour left to go we started to get hungry (and a bit tired) so we asked Ian for a recommendation for lunch and grabbed another Uber to Kuma's Too. We got there right before the crowd, and didn't even have to wait for a table.

The menu was great, and I had a hard time picking what to get so I finally asked the waitress for a recommendation (I was looking at either the Kuma burger, which is a cheeseburger with a fried egg or the Neurosis, which has caramelized onion and horseradish mayo). Since I'd never had a burger with a fried egg she suggested the Kuma. It was very, very good and perfectly seasoned, though I would have preferred a normal bun to a pretzel bun. I could only get half of it down, and the rest came home with me for dinner (along with those fries on Ian's plate :P):
Oh, and that garlic mayo on the side? Delish.
At this point, I would also like to let folks know that Hannah was SUPER English and ate her burger with a knife and fork, and I made fun of her for it. (And damn straight, Han, I'm making fun of you again!) She said it was too big and would have made a mess, at which point I glanced from her to Ian, who was shoving his burger into his face, making a total mess. I told her that there are some things that you just have to get messy when eating, and amazing burgers are one of those things!

It ended up being very similar to the "which side of the road is the right side to drive on" conversations that I have with people in England. We both insisted our way was correct and the other person was being unreasonable. Ahh, foreign relations. Discussing the important things at all times.

Anyways...I highly recommend Kuma's. There happens to be one near where I work as well, so I'll be hitting that up sometime soon.

After lunch, it was back to Kara's to pack up everything and head on home. Though totally shattered from a busy weekend in the sun, I was happy..and also sad because it meant an amazing weekend was coming to an end, and I only had one day left with my best friend :(

Overall though, I desperately needed that girl's weekend and a bit of a break from work-train-repeat. Knowing it was all coming to an end (without anything like it in sight for a very long time) kind of sucked :(

Monday, June 27
It was Hannah's last day, at my house, and we needed to leave for the airport after dinner. It sucked knowing that bags had to be packed and I'd be dropping her off at the airport, but we had a good day running around doing some last minute errands and stopping at different stores. The bulk of the agenda was Target, Funky Monkey (a local hippie-ish shop), Panera, and Baskin Robbins. We hadn't gone to Panera yet, and when Hannah was in San Diego she had some BR that she really liked and wanted to have again before she left. So we squeezed all of that in, and then when the time came we left for the airport.

And so we come to the point that always sucks when visiting (or being visited): Saying 'goodbye'. sucked.

But the upside was that I got to spend almost seven days with my best friend, I got to have a great Girl's Weekend with all of my best friends, and I'm lucky that I can say that :)

So there you go!
A week in pictures and words, and one I'll remember for a long time.

Love you, Han!